Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sierra en Llamas

I can see the fires on either end of the Los Angeles River Basin from the window of my westward bound flight. As we begin a descent, I see San Bernardino flames first then peer out through the window across the aisle and see Malibu's red orange glow below in the nightime darkness. It is disturbing and a sharp dose of reality after a week on Miami Beach for the Florida Media Market's Global Conference 2007, where I discovered a previously unknown affinity for all things dominicano, broke bread with independent producers and directors and writers and documentarians from Italy, all across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Colombia, Cuba and beyond while schmoozing in subconsciously Caribbean-inflected filmspeak. Spent the final day of down time in the ocean and on a Collins Ave. bus in search of lunch. Fortune was on my side. Aside from having connected the previous day with Daniel Herrera of La Razza Films , I was rewarded with a seven buck lunch special at Varanda's Brazil Cafe, an east coast equivalent of our own down-home El Sereno bound Taste of Brazil.

Daniel is a cat from El Paso living in Cape Coral and working on a doc about Immokalee, an alligator alley town on the west coast of Florida where the loosely Catholic Church affiliated Centro Guadalupe shelters, feeds and bathes immigrants in search of work and dignity. Dan's working with Miami-bred cineasta Georg Koszulinski, and they restore the meaning of subversive cine with an edge and an educated bite. Download the trailer and do yourself a favor. The conditions in which our (shhhssshh, we won't tell) "guest" worker are forced to live is enough to make you fume.

Filmmakers and distributors as well as panelists and executives pow-wowed and partied for several days at the Alexander Hotel. It was an insulated bubble and made my discovery of the hell-spawn fires that now rage across the Southern California landscape all the more shocking and awesome. Of course, we're all waiting with our breath in check for Bushie to make his photo op appearance and declare a national emergency. Yeah, right. More money for war and none for heat in poverty stricken homes and then they want to console those whose homes have been engulfed and destroyed by flames run rampant amidst the raging Santa Ana winds? No creo yo, chuy... to use the expression of incredulity handed to me once not so long ago on the Brownsville-Matamoros border where I took up residence in the late '90s as an Austin exile, mexilidado, mojado al reves.

No comments: